A Radio 5 podcast claims that growing numbers of landlords are asking tenants with a lack of renting history or poor credit score to stump up six months’ rent in advance, exacerbated by the climate of Covid-hit incomes.

While the Tenant Fees Act bans most letting fees and caps tenancy deposits paid by tenants, there is no legal limit on advance rent payments.

OpenRent says that of the 1750,000 properties it let last year, in 95% of cases, tenants had to provide one month’s rent upfront but of the 9,000 cases where more than one month was required, nearly a quarter asked for six months.

Company director Jonathan Ward told the Wake up to Money programme that he had been in a new job for just five weeks when he booked a viewing of a flat in Bradford and was asked if he would be willing to pay six months’ rent upfront – £5,000 plus a deposit – when he couldn’t provide a guarantor.

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The National Residential Landlords Association advises against big upfront payments and told the BBC: “We would encourage landlords to look for alternatives to asking for high levels of rent upfront.

“Where necessary, it is usually simpler to obtain a guarantor or suitable insurance product to provide assurance to tenants and landlords that rents will be covered.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said that it did not expect landlords to ask for multiple months in advance.

Arrears and voids

Housing Hand, the UK’s largest guarantor service, tells LandlordZONE that the pandemic and other economic factors have led to landlords feeling uncomfortable and worried about arrears and voids.

James Maguire, head of sales and business development, says: “Tenants are also concerned about their position in these challenging times. I would suggest that post-Covid referencing is reporting more ‘amber’ results (tenants needing a guarantor) due to financial positions being affected by Covid.

“In the same scenario, students find their parents are unable to pass referencing so our service is the answer, as the only alternative is to pay six or 12 months’ rent in advance.”

Listen to the podcast.

9 COMMENTS

  1. ““Where necessary, it is usually simpler to obtain a guarantor or suitable insurance product to provide assurance to tenants and landlords that rents will be covered.””

    Not it isn’t. The guarantor has to be referenced and sign a deed of guarantor. I ask for a solicitor to sign it and there’s a charge for that, and it all takes extra time. Getting an insurance policy for a tenant who requires one also costs time and money and I’ve found it impossible to get an insurance policy for tenants with insecure income. To ask a tenant to get an insurance policy, and I don’t know if there are any available, would be a risk because the tenant might cancel it straight away. I suspect this might also come under fees that aren’t allowed.

    I don’t ask for 6 months rent in advance because I like to be as sure as I can that the tenant will be able to continue to pay the rent beyond the 6 months. If there’s any doubt I don’t let to them.

    • 6 months rent in advance just kicks the can down the road.

      At the expiration of a 6 month AST the tenant can still stop paying rent.

      It would take years to repossess in the current climate.

      But I suppose at least the LL will have received 6 months rent before the tenant rent defaults.

      Govt will never cover the rent defaulting risk.

      £9 billion is what rent defaulting costs LL annually.

      Can’t see Govt wishing to cover that loss!!

  2. It’s simple. The government sets up a scheme to guarantee rent payments for people in this position. Passing more and more laws to force all the risk onto the landlord simply means the landlord either quit the market or has to increases rents to cover the liability. The current moves to make private landlords a “free to tax payers” extension of the welfare state is not sustainable. Ultimately all moderate to high-risk tenants will be forced into seeking government housing or will be forced into inappropriate and illegally run housing.

    • Totally agree. Having said that I don’t see how any one with a brain could not as it does seem bleedin’ obvious to any landlord that I know.

    • Yep you are totally correct.

      Unfortunately the only way for AST LL to not become effective free Social Housing is not to let to AST tenants.

      That invariably means selling up.

      How does that assist tenants!?

  3. I’ve done this in the past when a prospective tenant had CCJs or some other situation where they could be considered a risky tenant. Nowadays of course I wont do that due to all the regulations (although it is perfectly legal), landlord bashing in the media etc – I, like others, will now only accept tenants who have perfect credit ratings, references etc & so tenants that do not fall into that category will suffer. The government, councils, tenant pressure groups etc all claim they care about the tenant but in reality they don’t give a sh1t. They just want their nice headlines showing how great they are. I don’t know how they can sleep at night.

  4. With the big pay checks for those who head the organizations “campaigning” for tenants, surely they will sleep soundly all and every night, including through the pandemic where so many tenants and landlords have been suffering.

  5. If you listen to the podcast – the guy who represents generation rent says Govt should ban LLs from asking 6months rent in advance just as they have banned tenant fees.
    If Govt decides new legislation to Ban asking more than 1 month rent in advance then its logical some LLs will sell up.
    If too many start selling then Govt may rapidly increase CGT to stop the exodus of LLs making it unprofitable to sell.
    Interestingly – NRLA did not even bother to represent the LLs side of the matter even when asked by the interviewer – maybe its time to rethink your membership to NRLA….

  6. The NRLA are pretty weak compared to the onslaught LL’s are getting. I don’t see much in the media representing the issues landlords are facing. This is the biggest issue that NRLa should be focusing on and should have a good PR agency on board to get the articles into the press. Whether they have a PR agency on board or not, I don’t know, but they certainly need to up their game.

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